by Elli Atchison, World Vision
There are so many wonderful things about Christmas. My favorite parts are the beautiful decorations, holiday music, and sharing good cheer with family and friends. However, shopping is the part of Christmas I honestly do not enjoy. Finding the perfect gift is an almost impossible quest that I often dread. It is during these stressful moments that I try to reflect on some of the people who were on God’s list that first Christmas. What were the perfect presents He chose for each of them?
The first person on God’s list was Mary. She was a young girl from a humble family, living in the small town of Nazareth. Mary was, of course, engaged to be married to Joseph and probably dreaming about what life would be like after she became his wife. So, when a messenger came to Mary unexpectedly and revealed that God wanted to change her plans, I am sure she was frightened and confused. This stranger calmed her fears, and Mary said “Yes” to God’s call.
I think, in that moment, God’s perfect gift to Mary was the courage and strength she would need to be the mother of Jesus. For, as we know, this would not be easy.
The second person on God’s Christmas list was Joseph. He was a carpenter. Scripture tells us that he was a kind and honorable man. God’s plan was for Joseph, a good and righteous man, to be His Son’s earthly father. He would be a great example for Jesus to follow as the boy came of age and grew in character. So, in a dream, God told Joseph that the special child in Mary’s womb would one day save the world.
What was the gift that Joseph most needed from God? I believe it was faith and trust. He needed the faith to really believe that God had spoken to him and to believe that Mary’s impossible story was the truth.
God also had something special in mind for the shepherds. This group of guys lived on the outskirts of town and were not exactly high society. They spent their days walking the hills and nights sleeping in caves, always protecting their herds. What God had in mind for them was a VIP invitation to a miracle. They were among the first to see the precious baby lying in a manger.
Then there were the three wise men. They were sophisticated scholars, wealthy, and already had the finest of everything. However, God knew there was one thing even they could use—the Perfect Gift, a Savior. This Savior was born for everyone—not just the Jews, but the Gentiles too. They would visit this child and know that there was something very unique about him. They would take this knowledge with them and begin to spread the word.
The Perfect Gift is not just for shepherds, wise men, Mary, and Joseph. It is for you and for me and for all the world. It is one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t need batteries, it won’t get outdated, and it never wears out. It always brings hope, peace, joy, and most of all love. What an exciting surprise to find all of this in one perfect gift—a baby named Emmanuel, “God with us.” He came down from heaven on that first Christmas night and changed the world forever.
During this Christmas season, join me in once again turning our eyes to the Holy Land; the place where this beautiful story began. We continue to pray for hope and joy for all the peoples that live there. We pray for courage and strength for peacemakers who continue to seek a just and lasting peace in the region. And we pray for God to do another miracle for the people of this land, to bring peace and joy and love to those broken by pain and conflict.
The season of Christmas is such a special gift. Thank You for helping us to reflect on what really makes it perfect, Your Son, Jesus. In Him we have all we could ever want or need. His presence in our hearts is actually the perfect present we can give everyone on our list this Christmas. Help us shine like the bright star over Bethlehem and show a hurting world the light of your kingdom and the love that only He can bring. We pray that love is felt deeply and closely by all the people of the Holy Land and around the world this Christmas season. Overwhelm them with Your peace and love. Provide comfort for their pain. And bring hope to the hopeless.